Author Topic: Chant  (Read 29302 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #100 on: June 03, 2019, 03:08:59 AM »
SAN Antone, do you know anything about Eugene Cardine? I’ve just ordered one of his books.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #101 on: June 03, 2019, 03:37:35 AM »
SAN Antone, do you know anything about Eugene Cardine? I’ve just ordered one of his books.

"Beginning Studies in Gregorian Chant" has been on my wishlist for months.  Is that the book you ordered?  I went ahead and ordered it today, and will add it to my small collection of chant books. 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #102 on: June 03, 2019, 03:43:21 AM »
No, I ordered “Vue d'ensemble sur le chant Gregorien”
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #103 on: June 03, 2019, 04:11:58 AM »
No, I ordered “Vue d'ensemble sur le chant Gregorien”

Looks good; I wish I could read French. I don't suppose it has been translated?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #104 on: June 04, 2019, 11:30:30 AM »


This is very beautiful stuff, polyphonic and complex, Anne Marie Deschamps contributes a nice little essay on it for the recording, and one of the things she says, about how the place creates resonances in the silences, seems to me to be spot on. As someone else said, you can’t sing chant in a shopping mall.

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The eternal chant from cistercian abbeys

The cistercians, known amongst other things for the abbeys they built, attached great spiritual importance to listening. In making their prayer and orison as rich and sumptuous as possible, they were in fact trying to reach new heights of spirituality, though they still tried to keep a certain simplicity of form.
In the 12th century, Saint Bernard wrote the following text to present the service he had composed in honour of Saint Victor:
“If one sings, let it be a song of the utmost gravity, with no place for timidity or vulgarity! And may its sweetness, may it be pleasing to ear and touching to the heart, may it ease sadness, calm anger and rather than lose the meaning of the words, may it reveal them in all the fullness and depth of their beauty”.

Saint Bernard has not written about architecture; however, Cistercian architecture still remains a vivid symbol of beauty. It was created by his thought, faith, and rigor, and given form in stone by geometers.
Throughout the century of Saint Bernard’s life, Europe was full Cistercian abbeys and priories that were built up in a system of square stones with vaults made in the image of the “vault of heaven” (Abélard), capable of communing with the palatal vault of the singer. The bare stone, treated in such a way, is capable of realizing the harmonics of the voice which glorify the stone and at the same time create a resonant environment for the listener, which is still a subject of wonder for acousticians as well as for architects and physicians.
Saint Bernard wrote a great deal on the importance of hearing, and we could have expected the Cistercians to be a creative musically as they were architecturally. However, reforms in the Cistercian liturgical music were inspired by the desire to return to certain sources which, at that time, were not very well known. Therefore, as they were based on ideological principles rather than musical ones, such reforms remained within the walls of the Cistercian abbeys, and did not influence the development of music, which was undergoing a great evolution at that time.
Nevertheless, in spite of all this, an intense musical life built up around Bernard de Clairvaux, and was influenced by is writings, his vigour and his impetus: there were admirers’ or detractors’ works in Germany, in England, in Spain, in Italy, as well as in France. Celestial help, love, and light responded throughout Europe to the cantor of Notre Dame, through musicians who often wrote liturgies, and whose amazing musical creations demanded to be revived and “invented”.
Inspired by the visions of poet-theologians of the same period as Saint Bernard. “L’Ensemble Venance Fortunat” celebrates the “Angels and the Light” (CD 1), chosen from the favourite themes of the contemplations of St Bernard and his entourage. After the introduction, the programme includes nine parts set within nine Alleluia (the angelic cry: praise to Yaveh) with in the middle, a Kyrie in nine parts. Nine is usually the sign and symbol of the celestial hierarchies.

For a long time it was thought that polyphony had been abandoned for ever in Cistercian chant, first in its reformed version by Etienne Harding, then in the form given it by Bernard de Clairvaux. But a mention in the margin of a Cistercian manuscript in the library at Fribourg shows that the art of polyphonic chant by sight reading from the book (i.e. improvised according to a very precise set of rules) had in fact remained quite usual practice.

The manuscripts of several monasteries reveal some astoundingly beautiful polyphonies. Could this be due to the influence of the 14th c. Cistercian monk Pierre de Picardie, a musical theoretician? These manuscripts come from various European libraries which proves they were not just a local phenomenon. In Oxford, for example, there is a manuscript from Hauteriv Abbey in Switzerland, others are to be found in Fribourg, Lucerne and Las Huelgas, near Burgos in Spain. Two of these manuscripts – the one in Fribourg that comes from Maingrauge Abbey, and the Las huelgas manuscript – were written in the scriptorium of a Cistercian nunnery.
During the 14th century, the same train of thought regarding liturgical chant was being explored by three different theoreticians, with only a few years’ interval between each : Jacques de Liège, Pierre de Picardie and Pope John XXII. Their aim and guiding principle was restitution of the vocal parts and the importance of presenting the whole text, whilst the notion of a tempo not broken up into equal parts also became prevalent. This was all happening just at the time when virtuosity of composition and the division of time were moving towards the idea of metre and intermittence (later to become the distinguishing characteristic of the Ars subtilior); but such notions did not fit in easily with the liturgical nature and content of plainchant.

All the pieces on the programme of the CD 2 come from the Cistercian repertory that evolved thanks to the researchers of the 12th to 14th centuries. They are arranged around the Dedicatory Mass of ms. n° 17328 in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (12th c.) (echoing the Clairvaux Dedicatory mass from ms. n° 907 from the Bibliothèque Municipale in Troyes, unfortunately without musical notation). The polyphonies come from Oxford, Fribourg and Las Huelgas, and the monodies from Paris, Troyes, Oxford, Milan and Bruges.

These “mystic chants” are the expression of a certain experience of time and space. Just as Saint Augustine professes in the 4th c. “Memory is the past made present; direct intuition gives the present made present, whilst expectation is the present made future”.

The interpretation and performance try to respect all the richness of the texts and its many layers of meaning, whilst leaving room for the responses or the accompaniment from Bonmont Abbey. Within the pauses for silence in this music there wells up a resonance of sound that is totally independent of the singer and which forces his auditive attention.

Anne-Marie Deschamps (traduction Delia Morris & Denise Fowler)"
« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 11:34:10 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #105 on: June 04, 2019, 01:07:49 PM »


This is very beautiful stuff, polyphonic and complex, Anne Marie Deschamps contributes a nice little essay on it for the recording, and one of the things she says, about how the place creates resonances in the silences, seems to me to be spot on. As someone else said, you can’t sing chant in a shopping mall.

She has put out a number of recordings of chant, but it is unfortunate that she uses high female voices.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #106 on: June 04, 2019, 07:48:06 PM »
She has put out a number of recordings of chant, but it is unfortunate that she uses high female voices.

I think that is a good thing, the voices make the harmonies resound more strikingly in the chant which is not purely monophonic. Some of the women singers are also good enough to get the monophonic material to come off the page, which is quite an achievement.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 07:54:27 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #107 on: June 04, 2019, 08:11:01 PM »
I don't think it is either/or, i.e. both things occur: the tradition of chant performance is maintained and new interpretations/approaches come along by creative musicians.  I feel just the opposite as you regarding the monks of Solesmes.  "Poetic", "inspiring", "spiritual" and most importantly without ego are exactly the words I would use to describe their chant recordings, and how I think chant ought to be performed.

This suddenly reminded me of something, maybe completely irrelevant but I thought I’d mention it. I remember once meaning a pianist who specialised in recent music, he played Stockhausen etc., and we were talking about John Cage’s piano Etudes, and I wanted to get his opinion of one recording I find intriguing,  the most intriguing in fact, Claudio Crismani’s, He was very negative about Crismani, which he thought imposed the pianist’s ego. I’m not sure I understand this criticism at all, I suspect it just means « makes expressive embellishments I don’t like »

Is that what you meant about Gregorian played Solesmes style, it’s inexpressive, and you think that’s a good thing?
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #108 on: June 04, 2019, 09:31:20 PM »
This suddenly reminded me of something, maybe completely irrelevant but I thought I’d mention it. I remember once meaning a pianist who specialised in recent music, he played Stockhausen etc., and we were talking about John Cage’s piano Etudes, and I wanted to get his opinion of one recording I find intriguing,  the most intriguing in fact, Claudio Crismani’s, He was very negative about Crismani, which he thought imposed the pianist’s ego. I’m not sure I understand this criticism at all, I suspect it just means « makes expressive embellishments I don’t like »

Is that what you meant about Gregorian played Solesmes style, it’s inexpressive, and you think that’s a good thing?

Absolutely not!  I think the monks of Solesmes sing chant very expressively.  How can you listen to them and write what you did is a mystery to me.

"Without ego" in performance of chant, IMO, means without any other agenda other than performing the chant for the glory of G-d, as it has been taught according to their tradition.  No one imposing their own ego-driven ideas abut the performance in order to bring attention to their ideas, and to themselves, generating controversy in order to help promote their recordings.

I have no idea about the pianist playing Cage, but Cage based his entire artistic philosophy on removing his own ego from the creation of the works.  So maybe Crismani thought she did not perform them in that spirit.  I can't say since I haven't heard her performance nor that of Crismani.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #109 on: June 05, 2019, 05:16:19 AM »
Solesmes style is dead, it’s not livened up with the energy of ornamentation or spiced up with with microtones, they are so sober and restrained and homogeneous that it’s almost inhuman. How anyone can this that this is an appropriate way to present  liturgical music is . . .


. . . a mystery to me.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #110 on: June 05, 2019, 10:34:31 AM »
Solesmes style is dead, it’s not livened up with the energy of ornamentation or spiced up with with microtones, they are so sober and restrained and homogeneous that it’s almost inhuman. How anyone can this that this is an appropriate way to present  liturgical music is . . .

Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but I disagree with you.  However, I don't disagree with the terms in bold.  Contrary to you I do not consider the performance as "inhuman" but an example of the kind of ego-less singing that I think is exactly the appropriate manner in which to sing chant for use in the mass. Now, if you are primarily interested in chant performance in a secular setting, then anything goes.

One could accompany the chant with synthesizers and market it as new age music.

But the Solesmes monks are not singing chant for secular purposes.

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Re: Chant
« Reply #111 on: June 05, 2019, 10:44:30 AM »
Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but I disagree with you.  However, I don't disagree with the terms in bold.  Contrary to you I do not consider the performance as "inhuman" but an example of the kind of ego-less singing that I think is exactly the appropriate manner in which to sing chant for use in the mass. Now, if you are primarily interested in chant performance in a secular setting, then anything goes.

One could accompany the chant with synthesizers and market it as new age music.

But the Solesmes monks are not singing chant for secular purposes.

The question is not the motive of the Solesmes monks.  The question is, did the monk of the medieval era also think "sober, restrained, homogeneous"  was the best (or at least, a good) way when singing chant? Leaving aside the question of "egoless singing"--undoubtedly some medieval monks did it, some did not not, given the diversity and number of monks then--it's quite possible medieval monks (or some of them) would think a florid exuberance was a better way of singing to the greater glory of God.  Solesmes is, after all, not a tradition directly handed on through a living train of monks that reaches back to medieval times, but a scholarly project of reconstruction that began in the 19th century. 

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #112 on: June 05, 2019, 11:31:57 AM »
As far as I know there is no reason to think that the SRH style has anything to do with how anyone chanted before the late C 19.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #113 on: June 05, 2019, 12:33:05 PM »
The question is not the motive of the Solesmes monks.  The question is, did the monk of the medieval era also think "sober, restrained, homogeneous"  was the best (or at least, a good) way when singing chant? Leaving aside the question of "egoless singing"--undoubtedly some medieval monks did it, some did not not, given the diversity and number of monks then--it's quite possible medieval monks (or some of them) would think a florid exuberance was a better way of singing to the greater glory of God.  Solesmes is, after all, not a tradition directly handed on through a living train of monks that reaches back to medieval times, but a scholarly project of reconstruction that began in the 19th century.

I don't know where you are getting your information, there is no definitive documentary foundation to support your conclusions.  In my discussions with Jerome Weber he indicated that Peres is spreading what can only be described as misinformation, or at the very least exaggerating the evidence in order to support his own (Peres') bias against the Catholic church, and Solesmes.

The fact is that there is no documentary evidence whatsoever concerning ornamentation of chant in the 8th century, one way or the other, so conclusions must be drawn from other evidence, like neumatic notation. This ground has been extensively covered from 1911 on, and a consensus was reached approximately in 1950.  With the Church endorsing the Solesmes method.

Peres and other revisionists may pontificate about the subject endlessly, but there is no credible evidence to build a case that Solesmes are wrong. 


Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #114 on: June 05, 2019, 12:44:57 PM »
Here is something Weber emailed me, which I don't remember if I posted already, which shows how early the Solesmes method was embraced by the Church:

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The medieval MSS were recognized in France as early as 1811, when the question of restoring public worship after a decade (1794-1804) of the Revolution arose: back to the neo-Gallican that had been used since from c.1640 to 1789 or a return to Roman liturgy (now that Ultramontanism was no longer a bad word). (The answer was neither.) The discovery of Montpellier H. 159 with its alphabetical (hence decipherable) notation in 1847 and the publication of the Reims-Cambrai Gradual in 1852 were among the parallel developments that accompanied Gueranger's work on chant that could be sung at Solesmes, the sole original purpose of his work. Dom Jausions and Dom Pothier studied medieval MSS from the 1850s. The Congress of Arezzo endorsed the Solesmes edition in 1882, and the seminarians at Santa Chiara in Rome embraced his work enthusiastically in 1890, a backdoor to the Roman authorities beginning with the conversion of Fr. de Santi to their cause. Pothier and Mocquereau, in their divergent ways, had no intention other than to restore the chant of the 10c. MSS for use in the liturgy.

I find it incredible that Peres wants to claim that these Solesmes scholars did not know what they were doing.

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Re: Chant
« Reply #115 on: June 05, 2019, 02:16:12 PM »
I don't know where you are getting your information, there is no definitive documentary foundation to support your conclusions.  In my discussions with Jerome Weber he indicated that Peres is spreading what can only be described as misinformation, or at the very least exaggerating the evidence in order to support his own (Peres') bias against the Catholic church, and Solesmes.

The fact is that there is no documentary evidence whatsoever concerning ornamentation of chant in the 8th century, one way or the other, so conclusions must be drawn from other evidence, like neumatic notation. This ground has been extensively covered from 1911 on, and a consensus was reached approximately in 1950.  With the Church endorsing the Solesmes method.

Peres and other revisionists may pontificate about the subject endlessly, but there is no credible evidence to build a case that Solesmes are wrong.


The point is that there is no real evidence either way.  The Church endorsement says something  about ecclesiastical aesthetics c 1890. It says nothing about ecclesiastical aesthetics c 1100. "Sober, restrained, homogeneous" is what the clergy of the 19th century thought redounded to the greater glory of God. Whether the clergy of medieval times agreed with that is an open question.

As far as I know there is no reason to think that the SRH style has anything to do with how anyone chanted before the late C 19.

Exactly. But I think that can also be said of Peres.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #116 on: June 05, 2019, 02:46:21 PM »

The point is that there is no real evidence either way.  The Church endorsement says something  about ecclesiastical aesthetics c 1890. It says nothing about ecclesiastical aesthetics c 1100. "Sober, restrained, homogeneous" is what the clergy of the 19th century thought redounded to the greater glory of God. Whether the clergy of medieval times agreed with that is an open question.

Exactly. But I think that can also be said of Peres.

There is documentary evidence against the use of instruments in the church, as well as written statements against soloists drawing attention to themselves.  There are a number of sources dating to the 4th century and beyond that speak to the kind of singing to avoid in order to preserve a sober, meditative, inspiring, spiritual atmosphere. 

It is hard for me to believe that the kind of melismatic, soloistic style of singing would have been preferred to a more restrained style by the early, middle and late church authorities.

The Solesmes monks' style of singing chant has been endorsed by successive Popes over more than a century. 

I think the debate comes down to the question of how to treat chant. For the Church, and the monks of Solesmes, the purpose of chant is to sing the text of the prayers of the Catholic mass, and to do nothing that would detract from the understanding and intent of the service.

Whereas for a musician like Peres, he is treating chant as just another repertory to mine for artistic expression.

As I've written previously, I enjoy Peres' recordings - but I do not respect his attack on Solesmes and the Catholic church. 

Online JBS

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Re: Chant
« Reply #117 on: June 05, 2019, 05:13:19 PM »
There is documentary evidence against the use of instruments in the church, as well as written statements against soloists drawing attention to themselves.  There are a number of sources dating to the 4th century and beyond that speak to the kind of singing to avoid in order to preserve a sober, meditative, inspiring, spiritual atmosphere. 

It is hard for me to believe that the kind of melismatic, soloistic style of singing would have been preferred to a more restrained style by the early, middle and late church authorities.

The Solesmes monks' style of singing chant has been endorsed by successive Popes over more than a century. 

I think the debate comes down to the question of how to treat chant. For the Church, and the monks of Solesmes, the purpose of chant is to sing the text of the prayers of the Catholic mass, and to do nothing that would detract from the understanding and intent of the service.

Whereas for a musician like Peres, he is treating chant as just another repertory to mine for artistic expression.

As I've written previously, I enjoy Peres' recordings - but I do not respect his attack on Solesmes and the Catholic church.

To the point I italicized: perhaps the point was emphasized often because the actual singers were not doing it that way.

At the very least, we are far enough removed from medieval thinking that we can't automatically think that what they thought of as sober, meditative, and inspiring matches what we think of as sober, meditative, and inspiring. Nor should we be so tied to 19th century aesthetics as to think that the Solesmes way is the only way modern ears can be inspired.* I have not read anything by Peres, but I think that chant be sung in different ways yet still be suitable for worship.

*Two points
Back in 1975/76 a 12th grade classmate as part of his project (we each took a turn "teaching" the books in the class syllabus--in his case, Dubliners) illustrated what he thought of as the soul crushing depression typical of Irish Catholicism of that era by playing the first few minutes of a record of Gregorian chant. Obviously he did not find it inspirational.

As for 19th century ideas of Medieval aesthetics...I think the destruction of Viollet-le-duc's faux Gothic spire in the Notre Dame fire was a good thing, provided they replace it with something more in line with Notre Dame's actual appearance (something more Romanesque or early Gothic, if you please). That spire in  no way matched the actual medieval Notre Dame.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #118 on: June 05, 2019, 06:31:34 PM »
To the point I italicized: perhaps the point was emphasized often because the actual singers were not doing it that way.

I think that while there may have been a regular need to emphasize the way the church wished for the singing to be done, you cannot theorize that the majority were doing it inappropriately.  The more obvious interpretation is that there was a mode of performance that the church wished to preserve and not allow to deteriorate.

Quote
At the very least, we are far enough removed from medieval thinking that we can't automatically think that what they thought of as sober, meditative, and inspiring matches what we think of as sober, meditative, and inspiring. Nor should we be so tied to 19th century aesthetics as to think that the Solesmes way is the only way modern ears can be inspired.* I have not read anything by Peres, but I think that chant be sung in different ways yet still be suitable for worship.

But we are not so removed from Medieval thought.  There are ample numbers of documents which in the majority say the same thing: the music used in church worship should be done differently than the kind of music sung outside of church.  If anyone is tied to 19th century aesthetics it is those who wish to treat chant like any other secular music, to be done for entertainment purposes, removed from the context for which it was conceived.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 06:39:02 PM by San Antone »

Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #119 on: June 05, 2019, 07:32:16 PM »
Just to emphasize my general point, here's a couple of quotes from Dom Eugene Cardine: "All pontifical documents, including the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Second Vatican Council, December 4, 1963) recognize Gregorian Chant as 'specially suited to the Roman Liturgy' (CSL Article 116). Not so much certainly, because of its musical quality, but much more for its incomparable power to express prayer."

"To obtain the spiritual effect, and even more, the musical effect of Gregorian Chant, a certain degree of perfection is required:

  -- in understanding
  -- in execution: to strive for a technique as worthy as possible of both the subject matter and its aim, which is nothing less than the praise of God.  Experience proves that there is no choir or congregation, even of
      modest capacity, that could not be sufficiently trained to appreciate Gregorian Chant, and sing properly the part assigned to them and to reach an interpretation that becomes prayer." (Emphasis in the original)

Chant was expected to be sung by non-professionals, as should be obvious from the quote. 
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 07:48:30 PM by San Antone »